Skylar Gregg exudes retro southern rock ‘n soul mixed with the country and blues sounds of the 60s and 70s. I first heard Skylar’s voice as a background singer on a few stages around Nashville, but she’s been writing and performing in this town for most of her life. Her sound was born out of a musical family, her parents came to Nashville both to pursue music careers. She worked with Nashville multi-instrumentalist and producer Jon Estes on her new album, Roses, a departure from her previous two releases which she produced with her husband, Taylor Lonardo at their home studio. She’s released a couple of singles, “Long Way Back” and “Landfill” plus a video for “Have You Ever Tried to Lose Your Mind”, ahead of the album’s August 14th release.
AnaLee: Like many of the artists I’ve been speaking with over the last few months here in Liner Notes, you are releasing a new album in the middle of a pandemic. Nothing anyone before this year has had to figure out. Your third album, Roses, comes out August 14th. What does the next two weeks look like leading up to the release? Will you have a streaming album release show, any special social media events? It’s all so different now.
Skylar: In the spirit of trying to focus on the silver lining, I have been blessed through the second half of this production with a good excuse to focus. Leading up to the release I have a couple more videos coming out, we have some live streams we are doing, and I am in search of a place to do a full band live stream on the 14th for the release. I can’t wait to play a real show again. But we are definitely getting creative with how we can present these songs in a different way.
AnaLee: You stepped out of your comfort zone a bit on this new record, enlisting the help of Jon Estes to produce Roses. You recorded your previous albums with your husband Taylor Lonardo at your home studio. Talk a little about the decision to switch things up in the studio and about the inspiration for this album.
Skylar: This album was inspired by the song “Roses”. I wanted to compile a record full of songs I had written about life lessons over the past decade of my life. The song is about facing each day with intention and getting it done because you don’t know how much time you have left. It was the best decision we made to use Jon as an engineer/producer. Not only is he a nice dude, but he is super talented and really saw the end vision here. I think Taylor would agree that it was nice to only have to focus on one job, and that having an outside perspective on songs you have been hearing over the past ten years really brought them back to life.
AnaLee: I was recently describing your sound and I said something like, “sort of like a Bonnie Raitt meets Bobbie Gentry vibe”, so I was really pleased to see you made a video of Bobbie Gentry’s “Mississippi Delta”. Has she been an influence for you? Do you really play all of those instruments? I loved it, so I included that video below along with the video for a song you wrote with Mando Saenz, “Have You Ever Tried to Lose Your Mind” from the new album, also shot in black and white. Tell us a little about that song and video experience.
Skylar: I think she has definitely been an influence on me. I love the record, and the song “Ode To Billie Joe” and I think she taught me that even in country and roots music it’s ok to break the typical rules. That album is so wacky, her voice is so unusual to me, and I love it.
I do know how all those instruments work. I had to practice the bass part ALOT. Nobody is going to hire me as a drummer for any gigs yet, but I can play them.
All of my grandparents died of dementia or Alzheimer’s. When I was younger, I remember thinking that would be an easy way to go. After I met my husband, I realized that may not be the case. We wrote "Have You Ever Tried To Lose Your Mind" about remembering to hang on to every moment as hard as you can, because you may not get to keep all the memories. Corey Pitts really brought the song to life in this video. He was able to dig into the meaning of this unusual love song and I think it turned out great.
AnaLee: Thanks for taking the time to tell us a little about Roses. Are you doing vinyl and CDs in addition to a digital release?
Skylar: I am going to have a vinyl Pre-order Campaign after the record release so stay tuned.
"Have You Ever Tried To Lose Your Mind"
“Mississippi Delta” (Bobbie Gentry cover)
Ana Lee is on middays at WMOT, and is also the host of The Local Brew Hour, which airs Sundays at 7am and Mondays at 7pm on 89.5 WMOT and wmot.org.